– The kids are very trying today right from go. What with this being The Year That Winter Arrived Late, I blame it on a prolonged cabin fever period. Mostly so that I don’t have to waste too much energy blaming it on myself. I just can’t take that today.

– Brian has been doing that oh-so-hip “what’s that on your shirt?” thing with Lola. Where then you like poke the person in the face or whatever. I hope you know what I’m talking about because I don’t know how the hell to describe it. Anyway, she’s not as slick. She just says to me, “Hey, look down!” Then does it. Followed by, “Do you want me to do that again?” Well of COURSE I do, sweetheart! Who wouldn’t!?

– Corbin’s ENT visit is today. This speech delay business is for. The. Birds. Everyone I talk to tells me something different and I feel so frustrated by it all. Today we paid another $40 copay (after $160 on last week’s appointments) just to hear that I need to see, yet again, someone else. (Our audiologist appointment is next Wednesday.) But not before spending 50 minutes in a waiting room with my cranky one year old. Come on, doctors! I can accept that you can’t keep from making a one year old wait for an hour, but porcelain tchotchkes on low tables!? Really!? In the end, my only relief is to allow Corbin to turn the screen on my phone on and off while listening to it beep. When I am finally distracted by the Dr, he starts putting it in his mouth, and I am VERY grateful to notice early, because the whole reason I have this junk phone I hate is because he drooled on my other one and it was irreparable.

– The revolving door of kids’ appointments continues with Lola’s first trip to the dentist. Yes, her first one; I’m the worst. Thank GOD this is a pediatric practice. Kid friendly waiting room! They tell me they want to take her back by herself which, on the one hand, I can just chill for a bit and flip through a magazine. But it’s hard to relax, because I keep hearing muffled cries and wondering if that’s my kid.

Lola, it turns out, was a superstar. Her parents, on the other hand, are abject and total failures. She has cavities. I have all I can do not to cry from shame right there in the dentist’s office. And that’s BEFORE they tell me it’s going to cost about four hundred dollars.

– Later, on the way to the grocery store, I have to stop at the bank. And since I have a very special talent for always picking the slowest moving drive thru, I get lots of time to think about financial issues. I’m trying so hard to keep us on financial track, and it feels like it just gets harder. And as I try to estimate how much a hearing test and ear tube surgery will cost, I just feel like we’re never going to get to a stable place. Every time I do the math, all I come up with is that childcare costs and medical bills will never equal an amount we can actually afford.

– So basically I’m crabby. And then I notice the personalized license plate of the guy in front of me. It says “MIDLYF”. Since the car is red (well, maroon, but still) and a convertible, I can only assume this is a reference to this being a midlife crisis car. And all I can think is, “Who the hell has a Toyota as a midlife crisis car!?” Seriously, I don’t care how sporty you think this particular Toyota is, it takes a special kind of lame and boring to call this your midlife crisis car. But then, it is also most likely someone with a very responsible financial stability. I’m honestly not sure which one of us I want to be.

– The grocery store is cheering me up a little (now who’s lame and boring!?! TouchΓ©.) There’s a cute kid with a press on mustache. And a guy who looks about 20 dropping groceries left and right because he’s probably much too cool for a cart. It makes me laugh. And as I check out, with my target budget this week of $85 in my head, I watch the total creep up and up. And I stand there stressing, thinking we probably didn’t need the BIG jar of peanut butter or the yogurt puffs. But then she starts ringing the coupons. And all the hassle of those things (“should I buy the name brand cereal if it comes with a free gallon of milk?” “Is the expiration date on the milk far enough out for us to actually drink the whole thing?” “What is the actual difference in price per ounce for this brand with a coupon vs. the generic?”) pays off when I ring up at $84.76. πŸ™‚

– So I’m feeling pretty good. But I should know better. I go to check the time on my cell phone. It’s ruined. Probably water damage again from Corbin’s drool. And now? I quit. Can I please quit? This whole being an adult thing? Or at least the getting by on a very limited income part of it? I just keep failing at it and I’d like to quit now. But then I’ve got Coach Taylor in my head* talking to Matt Saracen:
You know how many people depend on you to make good decisions? You better stop being so damn selfish and stop feeling sorry for yourself!

– Do you know who couldn’t care less about financial issues? Lola. She’s just excited to unload the groceries. And when I hear her squeal with delight, I turn around to see her hugging, of all things, a can of olives. With the happiest face in the world on. And I laugh like a crazy person.

– so I’m finding the bright side, though. Because that’s a thing I’m trying to do more often. And…all this stress about money leaves me with no mental energy to get down on myself about never having time to clean and organize my house properly! So, yay. Also! Lola ate her dinner tonight! Even the pork! You have NO IDEA what a big deal that was!

*I suspect Eric and Tami Taylor will be in my head a lot these days. Not least because:
Ok, you might need the full awesome, man-molding, wife-supporting, daughter-cherishing, upstanding, character-inspiring Coach Taylor experience to fully appreciate the picture.
But also, they are just the kind of people I wish I was.


Okay, maybe ONE thing’s better.

I’ve said it in the past: people tell you that your kids getting older just gets better and better. And I never really believe them. (In fact, I think there are a lot of little lies surrounding parenting that people continually spout hoping they’ll be true.)

Well, yesteray my four year old was my personal lotioner. Yup, I got out of the shower and she put lotion on me while I plucked my eyebrows and put product in my hair and etc. It was kind of awesome! I was running late, so I would have probably skipped lotion otherwise. Now, she has her own methods that are a little …unorthodox. She insisted on lotioning up my belly button pretty well, for instance. But still. Kind of a fun part of the growing kids thing. Now just wait until they’re old enough for my husband and me to go see a movie, and I might just be singing the praises of how much better it is with older kids.

But I doubt it, because I just ran across this picture:
And about curled up on the floor and cried. Not because I look like that (give me a break, I was minutes out of a med free L&D.) but because I don’t want to be done with that!!!

And since I got an adaptor that allows me to easily put photos on my iPad, here is some more evidence of what a lucky lady I am.

The Mom I Want to Be

I just read Bossypants and loved it. I know that’s just the kind of well written, entertaining hook that’s going to keep you reading this blog. “Wow! She enjoyed a wildly popular book that seems exactly like something she’d like!” Anyway, for some reason I ended up thinking about Tina Fey: She’s probably one of those awesome moms who just cherishes the crap out of every minute she spends with her kids and is just nothing but enthusiastic about mothering.

I regularly swear I’m going to be that awesome mom. And I do cherish the crap out of my kids. But I can never achieve that state of spending all of my time with them just adoring being with them.

I sit at work and I think about how awesome they are and how much I love and miss them. But sometimes I also think about how much I miss being able to sleep like a normal person, or go see a movie with my husband. And sometimes I’m with them, and I think “ugh, I wish these kids would just go away from me for a while.” And then I think, “YOU’RE NOT SUPPOSED TO THINK THOSE THINGS!!”

I really want to always be kind and encouraging. I never want to lose my temper or be indifferent to their hurts. But alas, I’m just not always the best mom. I think part of the problem is that I allow myself to think too fondly of my Life Before Children. And also, total selflessness is just something that I don’t seem to have the capacity for. I want to be able to sit on the couch and surf the net when I’m sick, dammit!

To be honest, I do a similar thing when it comes to my husband. Away from him, I think about all the great stuff he does, and the sacrifices he makes, and how much I love him. And then I walk in the door to a messy house and crying, hungry kids who watched TV all day and I just feel frustrated and annoyed. I’m not proud of these things. I want to be a better mom/wife. But this is the way it is.

So every so often, I make a commitment to enjoy all of it. To have endless, boundless energy and patience so that I can be delighted and delightful. And every time I fail. But I have my moments, too.

On Monday (Christmas Eve), I worked all morning. In my dressy skirt and sweater because I was feeling festive. And then I came home and had to bake and take care of the kids while Brian ran some errands. And when I pulled the cake out of the oven, I realized the kids really needed a bath. In which Corbin splashed and splashed like a maniac while I tried to keep my hair/makeup/clothes looking nice for the party that evening. Until I couldn’t take it and pulled him out of the tub. Where he ran around while I tried to get a diaper on him, constantly worrying whether the little puddles were from his splashing or from him peeing while still naked. He then was DETERMINED to play in the toilet no matter how much yelling and redirecting I did. Until I wound up standing in my bathroom in my dress clothes and apron, a wet little Corbin running around whining beneath me, balancing on one leg with one foot holding the toilet shut while I bent over and tried to rinse the shampoo out of a squirmy Lola the Mermaid’s hair.

And you know what? I laughed and enjoyed myself. I was stressed and exhausted (I OFTEN find myself thinking “I just really can’t keep doing this!” Only to discover that, in fact, I do keep doing it. Always.) But also delighted at these fun little people.

But by tonight or tomorrow I guarantee there are going to be at least a few minutes where I think “Jesus just stop being so difficult! If you whine one more time I’m going to lose it!” And fantasize about not being responsible for anyone but myself. So if any of you awesome moms out there have some super advice for how to stick to just the cherishing and the encouraging, send it this way. I REALLY want to be that mom!

Wednesdays #8

– Lola is always being some animal or another and insists that you refer to her as such. Like if you call her Lola she says “you mean Kitty!” This morning she is GiGi the Elephant (oddly, sometimes she’s Ella the Giraffe, but she insists she doesn’t have those names backwards) and I get many lessons in elephant behavior. “Did you know elephants can do a flip?” “Do you know elephants can wipe themselves?” Turns out elephants are really similar to four year olds.

– I don’t even bother turning on the radio in the car anymore because Lola has to talk about EVERYTHING! Some of my favorites from this ride: “What’s that big sign? Oh, it’s a truck. What’s that big truck for?” It carries cold things, honey. (it said cold storage or something.) “Cold things? Like penguins?”
“There’s garbage. That’s the dump. That’s where papa likes to go.” oh yeah, does he take you with him sometimes? “Yeah, but today he’s at Florida. Looking for a very special playhouse for me.” (My dad’s in Florida looking at possible vacation homes.)

– If it’s Wednesday, Corbin’s visiting the pediatrician! This is his one year well visit. He is 20lbs 12oz (25th percentile), 30 1/4″ (75th), and still has a big noggin (85th.) He takes all the poking like a champ. But it is nerve wracking when once again the Dr runs down the list of “Does he do this?” questions and I have to keep saying no. Pick easier questions next time! Also, when he investigates the inside of Corbin’s mouth, I secretly fear that he will find Oreo remnants, and I’ll have to get a lecture or a visit from CPS or something.

– Do you want to know how many times lately I’ve sworn up, down, and sideways that I’m going to spend the day getting my house really clean and then not cleaned at all? Well, I’m sure you do; I mean that’s the kind of fascinating info people are dying for. But I couldn’t tell you because it’s too many to count. Corbin is napping and Lola is occupied and what am I doing? Relaxing and procrastinating. I suck.

– Then there’s a rather boring and painfully long sequence where Lola feeds her baby doll in Corbin’s highchair while I sweep and scrub our hardwood floors and keep promising Lola I’ll make her lunch as soon as I finish. Don’t get hardwood floors! Dear god the dust and the crumbs and if I actually wanted things to be even remotely decent I’d be moving heavy furniture every other day. If you already have hardwoods…they really are beautiful aren’t they? Almost enough to make them worthwhile.

– I finally get Lola some lunch, and she has suddenly decided that one of her favorite lunches is now too yucky. 😦 I try being a hardass about it, but nothin doin. So I wolf down about half of it before I realize that it would be awfully nice to have something to feed to Corbin when he wakes up. Of course, it’s also grocery day so I have nothing else to give her. String cheese and applesauce counts as lunch, right?

– It’s then time to head to a meeting at my old alma mater to hear my (grim) prospects for ever completing a potentially employable degree while working full time and having a family. And the best thing I can say about how that went is that I got to catch Smells Like the 90s on 102.1 (Better Than Ezra? Gravity Kills? Good stuff!) I walk the halls with all the 20 year olds, reliving some of the worst parts of my life, and somewhere in the process I lose my only pair of sunglasses. Great.
Wouldn’t it be awesome if the degree I already have was useful in any way? If anyone has a job for an English major, send it my way.

– Brian and I are discussing the grocery list, and Lola’s offering helpful suggestions. It goes like this: Yogurt, Crystal Light… “Ice cream sandwiches!” Etc.

– My mom got Corbin this really cute farm set for his birthday, which it turns out Lola doesn’t like to share. This is what it looks like when Lola plays with the farm:

THIS is what it looks like when Corbin plays with the farm:

This is what Lola looks like when Corbin plays with the farm:

Forgive the horrible image quality. The camera on this very expensive iPad is the biggest piece of trash I’ve ever encountered.

– Just one more thing. Lola uses well/good appropriately and I love it. She says, “You didn’t do it very well,” for example. How many adults do you know who would use “good” there? Of course, she also said at dinner, “Ketchup is more better than Branch [that means Ranch dressing].” So I’m not getting too high and mighty yet. πŸ™‚

I might be raising a monster

Holy crap my son is terrorizing my house!

So, at first it was cute; he wanted to play in the Tupperware. We locked up the cleaning supply cupboards and let him putz around. He moved onto the pots n pans cupboard, and we had a cute afternoon of him and Lola sitting in the kitchen making “soup.”

Then I had to lock up the Pyrex cupboard. Glass is less adorable to play with. Oh, and shoot, we better lock up the cupboard with the food processors, sharps! This was getting less cute. It’s not cute when you have to pull locks off the cupboards every time you want to take out some crackers or a bowl, or worse, when you want to throw something away. And that damn sweet baby wants to be held all the time, so you’re trying to unlock the cupboards while completing everything with only one hand. Let me confess, there has been more than one time that garbage piled up on the counter until there was enough to bother unlocking the cupboard for.

Then he found the toilet.
Every. Single. Time. The opportunity comes up- slap, slap, slap- little crawling hands and knees making a beeline for the toilet. He wants to splash in it. He wants to float his bath toys in it.
He wants to chew on the remote controls. He wants to push all the buttons on the cable box. He wants to disassemble every nightlight he can find. He wants to tip over the humidifier EVERY DAY! He wants to dump out my purse and toss the recycling around the kitchen and fondle all the kitchen utensils and he really, really wants to eat Lola’s Polly Pocket doll who is now always missing her head.

I haven’t been able to take a peaceful morning shower in months. Even when I lock up the cupboards, I have to find something to put on top of the toilet. And then I often have to take most of my shower with one foot up on the tub side holding the curtain closed to prevent Corbin from opening it up and getting the floor all wet, or throwing stuff in. My favorite was when he finally got tall enough to reach the wastebasket that we had been putting up on the back of the toilet. I peeked out of my shower to see Corbin sitting amidst the garbage sucking on the insides of a Butterfinger that Lola had tossed in there (probably because the kitchen garbage was locked up) after eating all of the chocolate shell off. I totally finished my shower before leaping to action. Don’t judge.

I lament to my mother that I don’t think it was this bad with Lola. She assures me that it was, and briefly my mind flashes back to the time I found Lola using the cup I rinsed her hair with in the tub to scoop up toilet water and drink it. But here’s Lola’s slightly-less-monstrous distinction: Lola wanted to play with everything and anything. If she was getting into something really bad, I would just distract her with something else fun, and she would move on. Corbin is obsessed!

He wants whatever inappropriate plaything he wants and he REALLY wants it. Not some poor substitution. Not his new foam blocks. He wants Lola’s hairbrush dammit! And he has a bit of a crying fit when he doesn’t get it. And I now worry like crazy about what kind of tantrum throwing brat I might be raising.

But the worst part is- sometimes I cave! Too often! I just can’t take the crying anymore, and if letting him dump out and crush every last dixiecup means I can actually both wash AND rinse my hair today, well, what’s the harm? If letting him chew on the remote this time means I get five more minutes of peace at 5am, well… one tell my husband on me!

But I’ve got to figure out a better strategy. Because this morning I let him rifle through the bathroom cupboard until he found the nail polish. But then when I tried to stop him, he flipped. So I got ready for work with my knees pressed firmly against the cupboard doors while Corbin threw a fit. Because he had experienced the glory of digging through my old curlers and biting on hair dryer attachments and now he would not. Be. Denied!

What am I gonna do with this kid? Seriously. Someone tell me. Because tantrums are something with which I will not put up. I’m just not cut out for that crap.

The best part about that picture is that I actually put the pasta back in the box and back into the cupboard! Just so Corbin can play with it next time. I’m such an enabler.

To my children…

You are two really amazing little people. And of course I can’t believe how big you’ve grown so fast. I know you’re both still so young, but I can’t help but feel like you’re slipping away from me as you grow. I keep thinking this sadness that comes with knowing that your kids are growing up must pass eventually. I want to ask all the moms of grown kids, “it gets better, right?” But I know the answer. I see it in their eyes when they urge me to treasure every minute because “they grow up so fast.” It’s not just a perfunctory platitude; it’s a truth you hope every parent will take to heart before its too late.

Of course, it only hurts to think of you growing up because of how much I treasure my little ones! This incredible, beautiful, terrifying challenge is the love and joy of my life. Admittedly, it is also the reason I sometimes lock myself in the bathroom and just sit there alone for a few minutes. But just a few. I really don’t want to miss too much.

Corbin, I marvel at the idea of your first birthday. I can’t believe it’s been a whole year since that early morning excitement when you were finally on your way into this world. I was worried about not feeling as intense of love for my second. I worried that I wouldn’t enjoy a boy as much. Of course that all went right out the window instantly. I have such a fierce and abiding love for my little boy!

You are a lover. Every morning, no matter how many times I’ve hit snooze, when I get you out of your crib, I sit in the rocking chair with you and we just snuggle for a few minutes. It feeds my soul. I used to sit you on my lap and your little face would just flop right against me. Now you’re a big boy and you stand and walk and sit up just fine. Thankfully, you still flop your little face against me. But you’re just as likely to sit up and clap your little hands together and beam with pride.

You get so excited! About toys, new skills, new foods. You love when your daddy tosses you around. Your smiles are all big, bright, and dripping with drool. Over the past few weeks you’ve been working on your walking. You smile and laugh as we all cheer every time you take steps. You’re up to walking across the room now. But those are the easy steps. Comparatively.

I hope that your dad and I will be able to raise you to be a wonderful little boy and, eventually, a good man. I hope you’ll play baseball and catch snakes and bring all of your delightful boyness into my life and our home. And that you’ll love your momma forever, but not be a “mama’s boy.” That you’ll always respect women and girls as your equals and treat them accordingly. That you won’t leave me too far behind when you someday meet the right girl. I hope that you’ll someday stop waking up in the middle of the night. πŸ™‚

And Lorelai, where can I even start? You are such a big girl. I love watching you grow up. All of the phases and all of the knowledge you are gaining at such an astounding rate. You already seem too grown up for my preferences. I wish we could start at the beginning and do it again. Because that’s how much I’ve loved raising you. I never knew that you were EXACTLY what I needed until you came along.

Boy have we had our ups and downs, and I know that there are so many more to come. You are the most spirited and independent child I can imagine. I joke that we’ll probably do more than our share of fighting as you grow up but that one thing is for certain: I’ll never have to worry about you giving in to peer pressure or to anything you don’t think is right. I hope that I’m right. I hope you’ll maintain that independence and I know it will carry you far. Hopefully not too far away from me. All of my visions of the future have you in a starring role.

While the thought of you growing up sometimes saddens me, the actual process of you growing up is heart-achingly wonderful. Literally full of wonder! I love to look at you on any ordinary day and see how grown up and little girl you are, both at the same time. I love to see you learning, always learning. When we drive to stores now, you ask me what letter it starts with and you look and look for the sign that means we’re there. I love the way you talk with inanimate objects and always have some story world going on. I love to watch you play mommy to your toys and dolls. They have names now. Every name used to be Mommy, Daddy, Grandma, or Lorelai. But now you name them original names, and they spend a lot of time bein’ in trouble for not listenin’. I’m not sure how to feel about that. I love how you make songs about everything.

I LOVE when I hear your little, excited voice say “Little Brother, let’s play with this!”

I think parenthood comes very naturally and easily to some people. For me it’s a great big (lovely) challenge. I know I don’t do it all right, but boy do I try hard. I want to do my best. I want you two to be happy and good. I want you to have courage and integrity, most of all. I want you to be humble and grateful. I want you to forgo prejudice and pettiness. I want you to stand on your own two feet, to play hard but also take pride in hard work. I want you never to eschew what you truly value in pursuit of material gains. I want you to appreciate Family. I want you to know, to never question, that you can do and be anything you put your minds to.

Today we celebrate your birthday. Both of yours. I have often felt sort of bad that neither of you get one special birth day, all to yourself. But I also sort of like the idea that you’ll always be sharing.

I really don’t know that I can take much of the credit, but boy are you great people so far.

If you’re happy and you know it

Yesterday was Halloween. Which you probably already knew. Lola dressed up as little red riding hood, and I got to accompany her to her class party.

I don’t know what’s with the weird face there. Probably that’s her “Mom, it’s 40 degrees outside, can’t we take pictures inside?”-face. But everywhere I tried to take it in the house, there was so much mess in the background! Not pretty.

Anyway, didn’t her grandma do a great job on that costume!? I was excited when she told me she wanted to be little red riding hood, because I’m a big fan of simple and warm. And I’m not big on just buying something from the store. Corbin was a crabby baby with a sore throat for Halloween. I had such great plans for him, but he cried whenever I tried to put a costume on him.

Lola’s party was a cute experience. Brian does all the dropping off and picking up of the kids, so I almost never get to see them in that environment. I discovered some things.
1. Lola is a very good girl at school, and surprisingly quiet. WEIRD!
2. Lola sticks out from the gaggle of princesses. That’s starting already? Almost all the other little girls had on Disney princess dresses and they all sat at one table while Lola was content to sit with a couple of boys. I hope that’s not my fault somehow.
3. Lola is a toothbrush head. This according to a wee little batman named Brody, who didn’t SEEM to mean it as an insult. Any four year olds out there able to clear that up for me?
4. The kids and teachers are, overall, delightful. So that was nice to see. πŸ™‚

Corbin learned to clap his hands yesterday. I’ve been trying to show him how ever since I read in Lola’s baby book that she was doing that by like 7 months. Corbin’s on his own timeline with everything it seems. But he and I were both delighted when he decided it was time to throw me a bone and clap his damn hands. The downside is that he’s so into his new skill that he wants to do it instead of sleeping. And then laugh about it.

Also, just because I love these comparison shots, here is Lola at right about the age Corbin is now:

And lastly, for funsies, here is Lola’s first Halloween costume. It’s nice when they let you dress them up without crying their little eyes out about it.

Happy November, y’all! My kids’ birthday is coming up quick, I can’t believe it! I’ve noticed that never do you hear a parent say “you know, they’re growing at a reasonable rate that is about what I expected.” No, you know why? Because they’re all growing up too fast!